Deemed a “Super Food”, it is no surprise that U.S. consumption of broccoli has almost doubled in the past 25 years. Nearly all that broccoli is produced in California and Mexico, which means more food miles and greater greenhouse gas emissions for it to reach broccoli-lovers in other parts of the country.
Traditionally, Monsanto’s broccoli breeders have focused on developing broccoli varieties for farmers in the Western U.S. That’s because broccoli is a cool season vegetable that grows very well in the cool and dry climates in Western U.S. and Central Mexico highlands. The climates in the east coast tend to have higher temperatures and higher humidity which means many of the popular hybrids used in the west are not well adapted to the east coast environments. But thanks to our collaboration in the “Eastern Broccoli Project”, some of our broccoli varieties are enabling locally-produced broccoli in the Eastern U.S.
Since 2011, the Eastern Broccoli Project and its collaborators have been working to develop broccoli varieties to suit eastern climate conditions, recruit local farmers to grow broccoli crops and organize a successful distribution system to supply the entire East Coast with year-round, regional broccoli.
Through our collaboration, Monsanto has given the project access to some of our commercially-available broccoli varieties as well as experimental varieties. Each year of the project, these varieties are put to the test in up to five test locations with varying growing conditions. So far, two of our broccoli hybrids (Lieutenant and BC1691) have proven to be well-adapted for the test locations.
As a collaborator in the Eastern Broccoli Project, we’re thrilled to play a role in enabling locally-grown broccoli in the Eastern U.S.